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Principles of Logo Design and more …


The veterans of the logo design industry have achieved their success for a reason. Sure, it’s partially due to the years of practice, blood, sweat, tears and inky fingers. But mainly, it’s because they stuck to the ten solid-gold principles of world class logo design.

Ensure a thorough design brief is received

As with all design projects, the brief outlines the plans, desires and expected outcomes of the job. With logo design, the design brief is a valuable piece of documentation which directs the designer towards the correct goal.

Research the client’s industry

A comprehensive knowledge of the client’s business and industry plays a key role in the creation of a logo that not only portrays the correct message, but also helps the client stand out in their sector.

Use a sketchpad to quickly flesh out initial ideas

With computers being the centre of all design in the modern world it is often easy to get stuck in with the digital creation, although this sometimes results in a vague direction for the logo design process. Sketching out initial ideas can help you quickly consider and review various ideas.

Design the logo to work in a single color

Logos are used in a huge range of environments, some of which require the logo to be reproduced at small scale or in limited colors, therefore it is important to ensure that the logo design works in mono format.

Create the logo in vector format

Vector applications such as Adobe Illustrator create artwork based on mathematical equations, whereas raster based applications such as Adobe Photoshop rely on the underlying pixels of the document. In order for a logo design to be scaled without the quality of the imagery being affected the logo must be in vector format.

Present only the best concepts to the client

Once a range of design concepts have been created, it is time to select the best examples for presentation to the client for review. This stage is a halfway point in the overall process and determines whether the project is on the right track.

That’s why we have the ‘gonzojury’, a handed-picked audience that makes the choice for the best logos after also reading the logo-questionary sent back from the client. This audience contains family-members, friends (working in all sort of branches) and even some clients of gonzodesign.

Show how the logo would work in context

A logo can be used for a range of purposes, from business stationery to vehicle graphics. Knowing the proposed use of a clients logo can help tailor the concepts to give a preview of how they would work in context.

Keep it Simple (and Stupid)

A popular principle in the world of design is the acronym KISS, which stands for Keep It Simple, Stupid. The idea being to aim towards simplicity in a design rather than unnecessary complexity.

A simple logo design allows for easy recognition and allows the logo to be versatile & memorable. Good logos feature something unique without being overdrawn.

Simple logos are often easily recognized, incredibly memorable and the most effective in conveying the requirements of the client. Remember, the basis of the hugely effective international branding for the world’s largest shoe-manufacturer is a very simple graphic swoosh.

Make educated choices when it comes to color

Color is one of the key aspects of any design, the psychology and impressions that each color gives can dramatically alter the message and overall appeal of a design. With logo design being closely related to presenting key values, color choice is of high importance.

Rebrand with care

Logos should be designed to avoid trends, making them timeless pieces of design that will look great today or years in the future. Every now and again however a brand needs a refresh. It is of utmost importance when rebranding to pay particular attention to the history and established views of the original design.


Okay, now we know the rules to make a logo. But look outside, every person sees 500 or more logo’s a day. Why do you recognise some logo’s and some logo’s not, the real question is:

… okay, but what makes a good logo?

A good logo is distinctive, appropriate, practical, graphic, simple in form and conveys an intended message. An effective logo is (in no particular order):

  1. Memorable
  2. Timeless
  3. Versatile
  4. Appropriate
Ad1.  Memorable

Following closely behind the principle of simplicity (see rule #8), is that of memorability. An effective logo design should be memorable and this is achieved by having a simple, yet, appropriate logo.

” Surprising to many, the subject matter of a logo is of relatively little importance, and even appropriateness of content does not always play a significant role. Ultimately, the only mandate in the design of logos, it seems, is that they be distinctive, memorable, and clear.”  Paul Rand.

Ad2.  Timeless

An effective logo should be timeless – that is, it will stand the test of time. Will the logo still be effective in 10, 20, 50 years? Don’t follow the trends in graphic design, the best logo’s of the world didn’t follow no trends: Probably the best example of a timeless logo is the Coca-Cola logo…

Ad3.  Versatile

An effective logo should be able to work across a variety of mediums and applications. For this reason a logo should be designed in vector format, to ensure that it can be scaled to any size. The logo should be able to work both in horizontal and vertical formats.

Ask yourself; is a logo still effective if:

Printed in one colour?
Printed on the something the size of a postage stamp?
Printed on something as large as a billboard?
Printed in reverse (ie. light logo on dark background)

One way around creating a versatile logo is to begin designing in black and white only (see also rule #4). This allows one to focus on the concept and shape, rather than the subjective nature of colour. One must also remember printing costs – the more colors used, the more expensive it will be for the business over the long term.

One should also familiarise themself with the commercial printing process so as not to come into printing problems further down the track. Learn to know the difference between the CMYK, Pantone and RGB color systems. When designing logos, the Pantone colour system is recommended.

Ad4.  Appropriate

How you position the logo should be appropriate for its intended purpose. For example, if you are designing a logo for children’s toys store, it would be appropriate to use a childish font & colour scheme. This would not be so appropriate for a law firm (see also rule #2).


It is also important to state that a logo doesn’t need to show what a business sells or offers as a service. ie. Car logos don’t need to show cars, computer logos don’t need to show computers. The Harley Davidson logo isn’t a motorcycle, nor is the Nokia logo a mobile phone. A logo is purely for identification.

For further evidence of this, take the top 50 brands of the world – 94% of the logos do not describe what the company does.


Author: Jan Rajtoral

Jan Rajtoral AKA Gonzo the Great is the Founder of and Designer at gonzodesign, providing design services across the full spectrum of Brand Identity, Graphic Design, Print and Advertising Design & Website Design.


on this article: “Principles of Logo Design and more …”
  1. Hi American Design,

    Glad you found the ‘jackpot’ and muchos success with your new project!

    Maybe you’ll find more interesting articles for futire projects here, so till next time.

    Cheers and Ciao ..

  2. WOW, This was exactly what I’ve been looking for. I’ve been searching for something like this for 4 days straight and was about to give up looking. Thanks SOOOO much, this is going to help tons with getting my next project started.

  3. Hi logodesigns,

    Thanks for your comment, I’m glad the article was useful to you!

    Naschledanou, ahoj!

  4. Wow! Really Useful Guide. Thanks for share!

  5. Hi Erkan,

    glad you liked the post! Saw your blog too, nice work man!

    Thanks for your visit, Cheers & Ciao ..

  6. Thank you so much for sharing…

  7. Thanks for the blogs! I am enlightened with the facts being presented. I look forward to reading
    more innovative issues from your post.

    • Hi AWD,

      … affordable website design sounds like templates (aaargh). And yes, just checked your site …. Joombla?

      Then I’ve quite a lot of innovative issues for you on the gonzoblog.nl, like for instance articles about custom-made webdesign (HTML).

      Cheers & Ciao …